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Newbury Park Drive-By Attack Puzzles Deputies

October 20, 1994|GREG RIPPEE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Detectives remained mystified Wednesday over a drive-by gunman who sprayed bullets into a house in a slumbering Newbury Park neighborhood, striking a pregnant mother in the thigh while she rushed to protect her children.

"We have absolutely no idea why we were shot at. It could only be mistaken identity," said the woman's husband, who did not want their identities released for fear of retaliation after the Tuesday night shooting.

The woman, 34, whom a neighbor said is seven months' pregnant, was working at her computer in a converted study facing the street about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday when she heard several shots and breaking glass, Ventura County sheriff's deputies said.

As she ran to her children, she was struck in the upper left thigh by a bullet or bullet fragment in the hallway just outside their bedroom, Sgt. Dave Paige said.

She checked on her children--who deputies said are about 2 and 5 years of age--before calling authorities.

Her husband, an avid mountain bicyclist, had been on a moonlit ride near Mt. Bony in the Santa Monica Mountains during the attack, Paige said.

The woman, who planned to stay with her parents Wednesday night, was taken to Los Robles Regional Medical Center, where she was treated for a minor bullet wound and released.

"We have no idea if this was gang-related, or someone with a grudge or what," Paige said.

Lt. Bill Montijo, who held a meeting with 14 detectives late Wednesday afternoon, said the victim was not tied to a gang in any way and that detectives had no further clues.

Nearly 24 hours after the shooting, teams of sheriff's deputies were canvassing the middle-class neighborhood in search of leads, neighbors said.

One man told deputies Wednesday night about a carload of suspected gang members, their baseball caps turned backward on their heads, who pulled up to the victim's house about 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and drove away when neighbors stepped outside.

Paige said the car that sped from the scene Tuesday night was a dark subcompact. The car seen there Wednesday afternoon was brown, the neighbor said.

On the morning after the shooting, detectives recovered some shell casings on the street in front of the residence, in addition to a bullet fragment in the house.

"It's a very nice neighborhood," one neighbor said. "It's not something that everyone is accepting very well here. It kind of changes your lifestyle a bit."

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